Thursday, April 26, 2012
Dead Man's Hand, by Nancy A. Collins
(hb; 2004: horror/western anthology)
From the back cover:
"Have you seen the dark, strange corners of this big ol' stretch' a land called the West? Sure, you've heard the stories of gunfights and gold rushes, but that ain't the half of it. Not by far.
"Have you met Dr. Mirablis and his miraculous elixir re-vitae? Or heard the real story of the Ghost Dance and the man they call Walking Wolf? How about Sam Hell, the Dark Ranger with a taste for blood?
"Looks like you need yourself an education, and there ain't no teacher better than Nancy A. Collins. Dead Man's Hand collects her acclaimed novellas 'Walking Wolf' and 'Lynch,' the short stories 'Calaverada' and 'The Tortuga Hill Gang's Last Ride,' and completes the five-card draw with an all-new vampire Western novella 'Hell Comes Sundown.'
"The West has never been wilder. . . or weirder."
Dead Man's Hand is an exemplary anthology that seamlessly, with fresh visions and voices, brings together familiar-yet-new horror and the Old West elements; her writing is damn near impossible to set down, with its darkish wry twisty humor, relatable (or hiss-worthy) characters, as well as pitch-perfect, genre-veracious action, gore and horror elements.
Worth owning, this.
1.) "Hell Comes Sundown": Sam Hell, an ex-Texas Ranger and vampire, and his companion, a squaw named Pretty Face, track a pestiferous conquistador bloodsucker (Sangre), who's traveling town to town and decimating them with his undead army.
2.) "Lynch": A resurrected gunman (Johnny Pearl), seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and unborn child, discovers that his brutal mission may be part of a larger design.
3.) "Walking Wolf": Walking Wolf, a raised-by-Comanche white man (and vargr - i.e., werewolf) recounts his violent, rollercoaster life that touches on noted historical events, and effective emotional points.
4.) "The Tortuga Hill Gang's Last Ride": A dime novel-inspired leprechaun (Little Red) joins a second-rate gang of bank robbers with wild and life-changing results.
5.) "Calverada": Killers crashing a Day of the Dead festival learn a harsh lesson.